‘CARES,’ ‘TRUST,’ ‘HEAL,’ and ‘HEROES’: A groan-up look at Congress’ aspirational acronyms

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'CARES,' 'TRUST,' 'HEAL,' and 'HEROES': A groan-up look at Congress' aspirational acronyms

No, I’m not going to give you a detailed, sleep-inducing analysis featuring numbers and experts opining about various provisions. Instead, I’m going to look at the names — which I find hilariously tortured — of the various pieces of legislation.

Possibly because I’m both a recovering English major and a non-Washingtonian, I like to know the full names of the legislation — like the Cares Act — that I’m writing about. And these names are just great. Let’s start with the Cares (or as I prefer to call it, CARES) Act.

Do you know what the full name of that legislation is? Probably not. Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. A name clearly invented to produce a seemingly empathetic acronym.

Now, let’s move on to two total groaners — the Democrats’ and Republicans’ proposals for more stimulus legislation. Remember, I’m not talking about the proposals’ provisions — I’m talking about their names. The Democrats’ candidate in the current stimulus battle is the Heroes (or rather HEROES) Act. The full name of this piece of work, which has been passed by the House, is the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. My favorite part is “Omnibus,” which clearly is in the title because an acronym meister needed an O, and Omnibus was better than Outsized or Over-the-top.

Showing that they would not be out-acronymed, the Republicans named their legislation, which is currently kicking around (and being kicked around) in the Senate, the Heals (or HEALS) Act. That stands for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection and Schools Act. The lowercase p in “protection” let the acronym mavens call the legislation HEALS rather than HEALPS.

And finally, there’s legislation that’s been around for several years but that I discovered only recently when Mitch McConnell and his crew stuck it into the HEALS Act. It’s a proposal that would let a congressional committee, operating outside of public sight, propose cuts and changes to Social Security, Medicare and some other federal programs that use trust funds. It’s called the Time to Rescue United States Trusts (or TRUST) Act. I’ve looked at it only superficially — but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s any reason to trust it.

I hope you’ve noticed that I’m doing equal-opportunity name mocking: the Cares and Trust acts, which are bipartisan; the Heroes Act, which is Democratic; and the Heals (or HEALPS) Act, which is Republican.

What do I propose to do about these contorted names? I’m glad you asked. My answer, naturally, is to propose a piece of legislation of my own: The Get Rid Of Acronyms Now Act. That, my friends, would be a true GROAN-er.


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